I purchased a Black Lives Matter sign for our front lawn.
I probably should’ve purchased a sign months ago, perhaps after marching with my family in a Black Lives Matter protest in our town. Or after sending an additional donation to the ACLU in the wake of the George Floyd murder.
But I purchased it today for a slightly more selfish reason.
In the neighboring town of Wethersfield, CT, someone is mailing anonymous letters to homes displaying Black Lives Matters signs. The letters are sealed in manilla envelopes and read:
“I am writing to share information regarding Black Lives Matter. As a supporter of the movement you should have a clear and factual understanding of the movement.” The writer goes on to claim that defunding the police endangers residents and property and argued that Black Lives Matter protests have “caused anarchy and chaos within OUR society” and “negatively polarized people causing hate and discontent within OUR population.”
The letter is signed “Your neighbors.”
The person sending these letters is clearly a pathetic coward. A waste of a human being. A sad, little weasel, hiding in a dark hole, cowering in fear and hate.
In purchasing and ultimately displaying a lawn sign once it arrives, my hope is that this disgusting excuse of a person sees our sign and feels the growing sentiment throughout America to demand social justice. Reform our racist institutions. Makes our country safer, better, and more equitable for our black and brown friends.
I also hope to receive a letter. I’d love to see this bit of cowardice in its totality.
More than a decade ago, I was the victim of an anonymous letter campaign. A small, insignificant band of cowardly scumbags attempts to destroy my teaching career, along with the careers of Elysha and others. That letter was also mailed in a manilla envelope but contained 35 pages of lies, mischaracterizations, out-of-context manipulations, and more. Among other things, the letter writers compared me to the Virginia Tech mass murderer and threatened legal action if I was not immediately terminated.
It was signed “The Concerned Parent Body” of the town in which I worked.
The letter – what we would ultimately call “the packet”- was sent to many, many town officials.
When I wasn’t terminated, it was then sent to more than 300 families in my community.
It wasn’t the easiest time for Elysha and me. Knowing that an anonymous group of people were hell bent on destroying our careers was not an easy pill to swallow.
It’s hard to defend yourself from cowards who refuse to emerge from the shadows.
We rallied, of course, supported by friends and family, but best of all, supported relentlessly by colleagues, administrators, and a great many parents of students in our school. Attorneys and law enforcement joined our cause. Despite feeling threatened, frightened, and at times overwhelmed, the support we received was remarkable.
In the end, we won. Thanks to rock-solid reputations and a community who loved us, we prevailed. It is not an exaggeration to say that more than a decade later, I still open the door to my school every morning, thinking, “I’m still here, scumbags. Better than ever. Happier than ever. More successful than ever.”
It’s a joyous way to start every day.
The best part of the anonymous Black Live Matter letter writer is that he or she has been identified. Police tracked down the letter writer – as they often do – but the case was closed without any arrests because investigators concluded no crime was committed.
Being a pathetic coward, it turns out, is not a crime.
Still, I like to imagine the look on the coward’s face when the police knocked on their door.
The police were also involved in my case. A similar investigation was conducted. It yielded some results that we chose not to pursue at the time. Through additional investigations on my part and on the part of others, we have identified most – if not all – of the people responsible for the letter.
We know who wrote and sent the letter, as well as those who had knowledge of the letter but did nothing to intervene.
It’s a small but in some cases disappointing list of names.
I have yet to confront any of these people because I have something even better than confrontation in the works:
A recent tweet that I adore read, “Don’t mess with writers. They’ll describe you.”
That’s exactly what I plan to do.
The incident stretched on for a period of nearly three years, and it’s so filled with intrigue, suspense, betrayal, and drama that it’s going to make a great book. I took copious notes at the time. I have access to the notes of many others involved. I have interviewed many people since the incident took place.
People have talked.
I’m ready to go. I’ll save my confrontations for when I write that memoir. That is when I will cast light on those people still hiding in the shadows.
That is when I will name names.
Soon, too. Once I’ve cleared my plate of the current batch of books.
Thankfully for the recipients of the Black Lives Matter letters, these are not public attacks. No one is attempting to destroy their careers or a reputations. These letters amount to little more than the pathetic attempt by a pathetic individual to express their small-minded, probably racist ideology.
What a loser.
Still, I want a letter.
Now that the police have identified the sender, their anonymous campaign has probably ended. That’s the thing about anonymous cowards. The thing they fear the most is exposure.
But maybe the coward will drive by our home someday, see our sign, and feel the sting of knowing that nearly two-thirds of Americans support the protests against racial injustice according to the most recent polling. A majority of Americans support Black Lives Matter. Most people believe in the need for social and racial justice reform in our country.
It won’t be nearly as fun as receiving a letter, but it’ll be something.